NPS Fort Donelson National Battlefield
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  • Stop 10: The Dover Hotel

    Built between 1851 and 1853, this building accommodated riverboat travelers before and after the Civil War. During the battle General Buckner and his staff used it as their headquarters. It later served as a Union hospital. After Buckner accepted Grant's surrender terms, the two generals met here to work out the details. Lew Wallace, the first Union general to reach the hotel following the surrender, did not want his men to gloat over the Confederate situation.  He instructed  Capt. Frederick Knefler, one of his officers, to tell the brigade commanders to "take possession of persons and property . . . [but] not a word of taunt-no cheering." An estimated 13,000 Confederate soldiers were loaded onto transports to begin their journey to Northern prisoner-of-war camps. Neither the Union or Confederate governments was prepared to care for large influxes of prisoners. The Fort Donelson prisoners were incarcerated in hastily converted and ill-prepared sites in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and as far away as Boston, Mass. Fort Donelson POWs suffered more from the northern climate than any other hardship. In September 1862 most of the Fort Donelson prisoners were exchanged. On two occasions, once in mid-1862 and again in February 1863, Confederate forces tried to drive the Federal troops from the area. Both attempts failed; but the second, led by soldiers commanded by Gens. Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest, cost the town its future. That skirmish, known as the Battle of Dover, resulted in the destruction of all but four of the town's buildings. One of those to survive was the Dover Hotel, which remained in business until the 1930s. It has been restored through the efforts of the Fort Donelson House Historical Association and the National Park Service. The exterior looks much the same as it did in 1862.